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Contemporary art from Sweden

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Cecilia Edefalk

Cecilia Edefalk

Cecilia Edefalk, who first came to prominence in the early 1990s, is highly regarded in her homeland and one of the better-known Swedish artists outside it. The fact that, even so, her work is probably unfamiliar to many readers provides a good indication of the relatively low profile of contemporary Swedish practice.

Edefalk's paintings are always produced in series. At the start of her career, these sequences were based on a single, often photographic, source, each painting distinguished by small modifications to lighting, posture or gesture.

Grouped together, each image comments on the others, their mutual discrepancies conveying myriad interpretations. Each painting looks similar, yet each is completely different.

Cecilia Edefalk

The subtleties of human interaction, where even tiny nuances of gesture can convey vastly varying messages, have provided particularly fertile ground for Edefalk's investigation of difference.

Another Movement (1990, left) is based on a cutting from a magazine advertisement and shows a man touching a woman's naked back. Changes in the position of his hands evoke a gamut of possible emotional readings, from the perfunctory to the tender.

In recent years, Edefalk has modified her own process of artmaking by creating paintings in sequence; an initial work serves as the inspiration for a second, which is used as a reference for a third, and so on.

This attenuation and distillation of source material frequently results in the emergence of absences, suggestive spaces and a dramatic reconstitution of pictorial elements. The recent Double White Venus series, for instance (below), progresses from traditionally representational views of an embowered statue to spare reductions in which the figure appears merely as an outline.

As Edefalk has said, "I discover things in my paintings when I repeat them. It is a way to explore my own work. I am always surprised by the result. I think I can figure out what will happen. But with every new painting, the others change".

Cecilia Edefalk
Cecilia Edefalk


Fredrik Hofwander

Fredrik Hofwander

Fredrik Hofwander's beautifully crafted pencil drawings appear to speak for themselves, their most obvious attraction lying in finely-honed technique (there's no getting away from the fact that painstaking mimesis almost always impresses).

But there's slightly more to these imposing works than initially meets the eye. A nagging sense of disquiet pervades Hofwander's tableaux, an unreality at odds with his realism - or even, perhaps, exacerbated by the unrelenting wealth of detail.

Other works actively seek to alienate through improbable amalgams of source material, or yoked-together variations in perspective, depth of field or even drawing style.

In an atmospheric twist on photorealist documentation, Hofwander utilises astonishing draftsmanship to evoke a world of unpredictability and nuance.

Contemporary art from Sweden: Fredrik Hofwander
Swedish artists: Fredrik Hofwander
Swedish art now: Fredrik Hofwander

Swedish contemporary art: next >

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